Reader L has a question about networking and job hunting in a different geographic area…
I just became engaged to a wonderful young man who lives an hour and a half away from me. This is the closest we’ve lived since we began dating a long time ago, due to jobs and schooling. I’ve been at my job for 3 years, and am not happy. He loves his job of one year and it has much more potential for growth. I’ve been quietly asking around, trying to see if anyone knows people in his city, which is the largest in our state, and he is not in the same field as I am and doesn’t have connections. Ideally I’d like to go to the same office as I work in (government) in boyfriend’s city, but it turns out there are 3 people in my own office who told me they’ve already submitted their resumes months ago to that city’s office and no response. These are people with much more experience than me so I’m quite discouraged. Should I just send my resume blindly and hope? Should I mention in the cover letter that my future husband lives in the city and that’s why I want to move there, or not say anything about my desire to move? I’ve already tried the local bar association there and the website of my law school’s career services office, but it seems like no one is hiring. One thing that’s a possibility is telling my bosses that I want to go elsewhere for a few years until my fiancee can start telecommuting with his job and then we can move back. There are 3 women in my office who have done that – 2 have done it multiple times now – and they are always welcomed back with open arms. Since both fiancee and I are from the town I live in now, I think that’s a reasonable and believable request. Unfortunately we can’t just live halfway between our jobs as my office has a residency requirement to live within a certain mileage of work.
I’m curious to see what the readers say about this one. First, to Reader L, congratulations on your engagement! Some thoughts on job hunting and networking are below, but I’ll say up front that the telecommuting option sounds like a great option for your situation, particularly if you know your boss is open to the idea. Talk with the women who’ve done it before and see what they thought of the experience — what is their advice to you in talking to your boss? what is their advice to you in telecommuting? Once you start telecommuting you can network (and interview, depending on whatever agreement you strike with your boss in order to telecommute) in your new city without fear of using all those vacation days that I’m sure you’re hoping to save for the wedding festivities and your honeymoon.
Tips on Jobhunting in a Different City
Now, some ideas on networking and jobhunting in a different city than your own…
a) Borrow your fiance’s address. One of the tips I remember from my college years (where the university was in Chicago but many people migrated to New York to work) was that you should “borrow” a local friend’s address to use on your resume and correspondence so it looks like you’re a local. If the city is only an hour and a half drive, it should be no problem if the prospective employer wants to interview you sometime soon, like in a day or two.
b) Make plans to be in the city for Week X. Even if you don’t have any job interviews planned, write to the employers you’re interested in and tell them that you’ll be moving to the city soon and would love to hear more about their business, and could you arrange an informational interview for the week of X? Arrange as many as you can. I would also add to this mix any alumni (whether you knew them or not) who are working in the industry you’d like to be in, or who work for employers you’d like to work for. Repeat as often as you can given your current vacation time allotment.
c) Use online social networks to see who you know in the city. For example, if you sign up for LinkedIn Pro you can use the “Advanced” tab to search for connections located “in or near” a certain zipcode, and you can filter them by seniority level, which groups they have in common with you, what level of connection they are to you, and even by where they fall in the Fortune 1000 rankings. So if I were moving to LA and wanted to find a legal job that had some relation to the IP or media law field, I would search for people working within 50 miles of 90036 (the zip code of a friend’s LA address), who work in Industries such as Judiciary, Law Practice, Legal Services, or Legislative Offices, of all Seniority Levels, who are affiliated with some of the Groups I’ve joined (such as Media & Entertainment Law Group, Medill Alumni, ThoseInMedia, The Copyright Society of the USA, Digital Breakfast, etc), and look only for 1st or 2d connections and group members who speak English. Given my current connections, that search nets me 397 results — not a bad place to start. (Full disclosure: I have a LinkedIn Pro membership courtesy of LinkedIn; I also have purchased a small amount of stock in the company.)
d) If you do start telecommuting, do your best to network and expand your connections. A number of my friends swear by charitable groups like the Junior League as a great way to meet new people in a city; you may also find that a number of local institutions such as museums have “under 35” networking groups that may be great ways for you to network. Get involved in alumni groups, local chapters of the bar association or specialty associations, church groups — whatever interests you. You don’t mention where you’ll be holding the wedding (your city or his), but as you get to know your vendors I’d even suggest asking them if they know anyone in your field — you just never know.
e) Since you do recognize that it’s likely you’ll be back in your current city one day, don’t forget about it once you’re away. Continue to network and make business lunches with people whenever you’re back in the city.
Readers, what are your tips for jobhunting from afar? What other resources would you recommend to Reader L?